Market Lavington Museum

Sheep shears and shearing

In Market lavington Museum we have a couple of pairs of sheep shears. This pair dates from the end of the nineteenth century but in style they are almost timeless.

19th century sheep shears at Market Lavington Museum

I have seen shepherds in market Lavington shear sheep with an implement just like these in the 1980s and even the 1990s. For small flocks it just isn’t worth setting up power tools.

The centre of Market Lavington may have been a small town, but the parish itself was large and most of it was agricultural land. Sheep have had a traditional roll to play, particularly on the chalk hills. By day, the sheep grazed the large open hill fields but at night they were folded on fields planned for arable crops. Their dung help to make the arable fields that bit richer and so produce better crops.

Shearing was and is a skilled business and special gangs set themselves up to do this seasonal work. Nowadays the gangs often come from the other side of the world – Australia and New Zealand. Back in 1892, Meech’s Farm, which was in Easterton parish, employed the gang from Chirton as shown below.

Shearing at Meech's farm, Easterton in 1892